Un long dimanche de fiançailles (2004)
Jean-Pierre Jeunet's follow-up to his remarkably successful Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain is a pompously overproduced and structurally pretentious film full of interesting aspects - both historically and characterologically. Jeunet goes for a flamboyant mix and match of romance, history and mystery, and nearly gets away with it. The romance is delicate, effective and beautifully conveyed, and as a document of war, the film is agonizingly explicit (almost poetically realistic) and offers harrowing observations wrapped in a fragmentary narrative.
The gallery of character introduced in this film is substantial (to say the least), which at the same time enhances the complexity of the narrative and helps make the mystery elaborately confusing (or perhaps too elaborately confusing). Because, even though there are wonderful moments of filmmaking, and the film has a production design and tone that is both captivating and handsome, Jeunet over-emphasizes his mystery and deceives his viewers by alternating the exposition of various characters. Ultimately, he'd rather include new aspects than keep the ones already introduced relevant. It gets messy both in form and narrative, but never visually or emotionally. The Audrey Tautou character remains potent and convincing throughout, but Jeunet cannot entirely hold his film together, although he has some wonderful moments. A subplot involving Jodie Foster has a delightful sexual tension and so does the love scenes between Ulliel and an enjoyably veiled erotic Tautou. Unfortunately, Jeanet's mystery isn't as intriguing as he wants it to be.